Alzheimer’s is the most common cause of dementia. A general term for memory loss and other serious cognitive abilities that interfere with daily life. Alzheimer’s disease accounts for 60 to 80 percent of dementia cases.
Alzheimer’s is not a natural part of aging. In fact, not all seniors develop Alzheimer’s. However, the most known risk factor for this disease is aging. Most people with Alzheimer’s are over 65 years old. But Alzheimer’s is not just an aging disease. About 200,000 Americans under the age of 65 have Alzheimer’s, which is called premature Alzheimer’s.
The disease gets worse over time. Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease, where the symptoms of dementia gradually worsen over several years. In the early stages, a person experiences only mild forgetfulness, but over time and reaching the final stages of the disease, people lose the ability to talk and respond to their environment.
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Alzheimer’s is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. On average, a person with Alzheimer’s lives four to eight years after diagnosis, but can live up to 20 years, depending on other factors.
There is currently no cure for Alzheimer’s, and treatments by doctors are designed to slow the progression of the disease. Although current treatments cannot stop the progression of Alzheimer’s, they can temporarily improve the symptoms of dementia and improve the quality of life for people with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers.
The most common initial sign of Alzheimer’s symptoms, Difficulty in remembering new information. Other symptoms of this disease include the following:
- Decreased ability to remember and recall new information such as forgetting appointments
- Impairment in comprehending and reasoning and judging like inability to make decisions
- Visual disturbances such as vision problems or recognition of faces and objects such as inability to dress
- Difficulty pronouncing words and speaking or reading and writing like pausing while speaking to find the right word
- Changes in personality and behavior such as confusion, changes in sense of humor, indifference and…
Just like the rest of the body, our brain changes with age. Most of us have a laid back attitude when it comes to painting a picture about ourselves. However, severe memory loss, confusion, and other major changes in the way our minds work may be signs of brain cell loss.
What causes Alzheimer’s disease?
Scientists have not yet fully understood what causes Alzheimer’s disease. In people with early-onset Alzheimer’s, genetic mutations may be the main cause of the disease. Late-onset Alzheimer’s is caused by a series of complex brain changes that occur over decades. The causes of this disease probably include a combination of genetic factors, environmental factors and lifestyle. The importance of each of these factors in increasing or decreasing the risk of Alzheimer’s can vary from person to person.
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One of the great secrets of Alzheimer’s disease is why it affects the elderly so much. Research into the natural aging of the brain is examining this important question. For example, scientists are investigating how age-related changes in the brain may damage nerve cells and affect other types of brain cells. These age-related changes include atrophy (shrinkage) of certain parts of the brain, inflammation, vascular damage, production of unstable molecules called free radicals, and dysfunction of mitochondria (breakdown of energy production in cells).
Genetics and family history can also be one of the causes of this disease. Research by doctors has shown that a gene called apolipoprotein E in humans causes Alzheimer’s, especially in the elderly.
Health, environmental and lifestyle factors that may play a role in Alzheimer’s disease.
Research shows that many factors beyond genetics may play a role in the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. For example, vascular diseases such as heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure, as well as metabolic conditions such as diabetes and obesity, can also contribute to Alzheimer’s.
A healthy and nutritious diet, physical activity, social participation and mind-stimulating activities help older people to better maintain their physical condition. These factors may also help reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.